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It made The Huffington Post, USA Today and a variety of blogs across the political spectrum. In their attempt to advocate “true” conservative values, David Rufful ’12 and Josh Riddle ’12 made a rap video. And then it went viral.
“The Young Con Anthem,” which had reached almost 90,000 views on YouTube by Sunday night, was intended to spread the views of the Young Conservatives, a group started by Rufful and Riddle with “a devout mission to spread the love and logic surrounding true conservatism,” according the organization’s web site.
Rufful and Riddle both came to Dartmouth from the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts.
“We didn’t think it would blow up to be this big, but it was kind of a way for us to express a pretty unique view,” Riddle said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “We kind of wanted to spread the love that’s behind the conservative movement.”
In the rap, Rufful and Riddle, who perform under the names Serious C and Stiltz, respectively, discuss the origins of their conservative values, saying, “Three things taught me conservative love / Jesus, Ronald Reagan plus Atlas Shrugged.” “I take the way I want to have relationships and my morals from the Bible and Jesus, the idea of supply side economics from Ronald Reagan and from Atlas Shrugged,” Riddle said in an interview. “Obviously, I don’t agree with all of [Ayn Rand’s] religious philosophies, but it’s all about the power of the individual.”
Riddle said his views are “more valid” because of the diverse influences that contribute to his conservatism.
The video was meant to start a dialogue about politics, Riddle said, not to offend any groupAt one point in song, the lyrics state, “Don’t matter if you’re gay, straight, Christian, Muslim / There’s one thing we all hate, it’s called socialism.”
“I just hope that people understand that in no way are we trying to hate on anybody,” Riddle said.
The online response to the video, which currently has a 1.5 out of five rating on YouTube, has varied. One commenter on the conservative blog Hot Air expressed approval for “the message, the messengers and the media.”
A commenter on YouTube, however, disagreed.
“And this folks ... is why we become Democrats,” the commenter wrote.
Rufful said that there has been “hateful commentary” in response to the video, particularly from liberal bloggers.
“There’s been death threats — waking up to a video of a guy with a skull, that’s not really what we were looking for,” he said referring to YouTube user NikolaiRaged’s video response.
Scott Johnson ’73, a contributor to the conservative blog Power Line, praised the video in an interview with The Dartmouth.
“I thought it was heartening to see some very bright young people who have thought about the issues and are reacting to current events trying to communicate in a way that is contemporary and good humored,” Johnson said.
Power Line posted the “Young Con Anthem” video on its web site on Saturday.
“I certainly appreciated what they had to say, and I couldn’t believe how funny it was and how biting it was,” Johnson said. “I was just laughing about it all day,”
Both Harrison Davies ’09, president of the College Republicans, and Bret Vallacher ’10, president of the College Democrats, said they had not heard about the video until they were asked to comment by The Dartmouth.
“I have to admit, at first I thought it was funny and actually a Colbertesque satire,” Vallacher said after watching the video. “Yet, as this tirade staggers on, it tragically exposes the completely irreconcilable views of modern day neoconservatism.”
Rufful said he came up with his alias, “Serious C,” because he is “seriously Christian and conservative,” according to the group’s web site. Riddle, who is six-foot-nine, was called “Stiltz” by his friends because of his height.
“We don’t claim to be rappers — we’re not pursuing a rap career,” Rufful said, when asked if the duo had any plans to create other videos. “Spreading the conservative message is more of our goal.”
The YouTube video was shot on Dartmouth’s campus in the Rockefeller Center and Occom Commons.